In 1990 an American attorney called Mike Godwin made an observation about the nature of the prolonged debate on the internet, and coined a phrase that has since been referred to as “Godwin’s Law”:
“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1”
This can apply almost any discussion but is nearly a certainty in online discussions about politics, as the end result between two parts move close and close to one party making the claim that the political leader, or their party, is acting in a way so abhorrent that they are comparable to Hitler or his party. The fact that I have seen this time and time again, normally when someone slightly to the liberal side of a more conservative policy vents their frustration (I genuinely once saw an argument which after a mere hour on a message board claimed the British government to be exactly like the Nazi party, on the basis that they were raising the pension age).
I have been frustrated many times by this occurrence because if you look beyond the mandatory education on the subject, the clutch of truly attentive films and books on the subject and put a modicum of effort into actually examining the Holocaust in Europe you will see that this is not just another war with casualties, not just a sad chapter but at times a truly surprising series of events. I can’t begin to image the fear and hatred that people had to feel in order to make themselves comply with the aggressive measures taken during the second world war to innocent people of all ages genders and abilities.
I have felt for a long time that we should focus very carefully on what has happened because the true facts are so hard to imagine that over time it would be easy for people to forget it happened, or to believe the stories to be exaggerations or as some do, lies.
I don’t worry about that anymore.
At the fear of sounding like I am playing into Godwin’s Law (for the first time) we have reached a point in the last 18 months where any historian will be able to see that certain events which have lead tot he Holocaust are again happening now. This isn’t to say that this is inevitable and that it will end the same way, but truthfully we are already too close and people are already suffering, but this time the persecution I fear is not focused in Europe, but in America.
“The Land of the Free” has taken a drastic diversion away from the direction taken by the few many (Traitors their time but heroes now) who have struck out from European origin with a hope of creating a fair and equal society for all in the new world.
The 14th Amendment guarantees that everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law, however in a decidedly grotesque (and to many of us predictable) fashion 45th President Donald Trump has violated this with an executive order which has seen a 120 day suspension of all refugees arriving from Syria, a country in the midst of true humanitarian crisis and tragedy through the acts of war which will be beyond the understanding and influence of its victims. In addition, there is a ban on entry of all nationals from several Muslim countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen – for 90 days. This further Ban if read carefully also allows for the time to be expanded and for further nations to be included.
These are the are early steps in Trumps promised campaign which has been phrased in many ways under the guise of homeland security, economic defense, cultural survival which all boil down to the same true goal, to eradicate the risk of Muslim integration and influence in America, either from within it borders of further afield.
Much like Adolf Hitler, Donald trump and his republican party did not march into power, he earned the right to be there through the (admittedly imperfect) democratic process that more honest men before him have tried to design in the best interest of the people. His campaign was one of creating a scapegoat for the disenfranchised and a threat from the Muslim world as a boogie man to the less perceptive and more aggressive members of society, not unlike those campaigns against the Jews in Europe. Hitler ruled from a position of arrogance and hatred and it must be acknowledged that for a long time he was successful, to all of our shame. Eventually, those crimes ended because others in the world (including America) acknowledged that it was wrong and fought against Fascism.
In a way, President Trump stands in an oddly more sinister position. While he has not openly spoken about the murder of Muslims (and neither did Hitler before the war) he has followed the same steps of changing people’s status, removing equal legal protection and seeks to introduce a program of registration. There would be no rational reason to take these steps unless you were trying to remove that element from society, and as that is clearly his goal it seems equally clear that stopping new residence arriving will not achieve this, then we have to concern ourselves with what happens to those who already live in America.
I say he is more sinister however due to the background he has come from. This born wealthy titan, a man who has known nothing but privilege and ease in life, has convinced a large portion of the America – one of the most economical unbalanced nations in the world – that the nation’s ills do not sit with the extreme wealthy taking advantage of the poor or powerless but instead falling on those refugees who would arrive in order to live in freedom. This argument is perceived by many of those poorer people in America that they have so little themselves that they cannot afford to share but in actual fact, there is more than enough to go around in America when distributed more evenly. This won’t happen because wealth and power are so intertwined in this society that freedom takes a back step to wealth.
The rich, such as President Trump, have little to fear from the Muslim world in America but what they do fear is the Americans in the poorer levels of society who are more aware than ever before that the world is not fair for them. It is all too easy then for the Government to create a scary and mysterious threat in the form of a culture that many find it easy to detach from. Just like the school bully who picks on someone different from them, just in case anyone wants to look too carefully at their own shortcomings.
America is crass and vulgar, in so many ways and yet it does not have to be. It was designed to be a Utopia of freedom of religion – of hope – which stumbled out of the block first with the subjugation of native Americans and even now with the banning of new Americans. America could be great indeed, but more importantly, it could be fair, it could be beautiful and it could be safe.
I would urge American’s now to stop worrying about where new American’s come from – your ancestors are almost certainly from across the ocean – and to tell your government that this has gone too far. Whoever you voted for does not matter, whatever you felt at the time was best does not matter. If you feel that you wanted this, you wanted the world of “Us vs Them” in perpetuity then I fear I will never be able to understand but please examine this more carefully, read the Poem below which has adorned the gateway to your nation for generations and try to decide now which America you want to live in, the America of freedom, hope and egalitarian justice for everyone or the America of fear, threats and Walls.
There are people who are tired, poor and wretched and they want to be free and they are being sent away. Is this the America your ancestors promised?
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
(The New Colossus – Emma Lazarus)